Proper use of the shooting sling remains well entrenched among knowledgeable rifle shooters even if the general gun owning public seems ignorant of their benefits and use. They are important enough that authors such as Glen Zediker and Jim Owens (among others) have written entire books about their use. Surveys of conventional competitive rifle shooters find they would rather compete on smaller targets with smaller, less forgiving scoring rings than have the use of their shooting slings restricted.

Shooters in the know, know the shooting sling. How did it come about? When did shooters start benefiting from this useful support?

Here’s an important history demonstrating their development.

The year was 1921. The place—Lyon, France. The occasion was the nineteenth World Shooting Championships at 300 meters. The use of the rifle sling as an aid to shooting (rather than as a carrying device) was arguably invented by, and certainly promoted by then Lt. Townsend Whelen in his 1906 book Suggestions to Military Riflemen. Strange as it may seem, neither the sling (as support) nor aperture sights were commonly used in European rifle competition in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Slings and aperture rear sights quickly became invariable features of international rifle shooting and, I think it is fair to say, changed the sport forever.

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